Monday, April 17, 2017

Patriot(s) and apostrophes

I live in Massachusetts... which means that today - the third Monday in April - is Patriot's Day.

Or - wait...  is it Patriots Day, Patriot's Day, or Patriots' Day?

Those of you who know me, know that a misplaced apostrophe is one of my biggest pet peeves.  I was recently on a website where one of the tabs was labeled Birthday's...  and if I could, I would have hacked into their website and removed the offensive and inappropriate apostrophe.  So as this quasi-holiday approached, I found myself wondering what the correct name was.  Yes, I've lived in Massachusetts for many years, but I rarely write the name of the day.. and when you say the day out loud, it doesn't really matter where the apostrophe is.  But now that the question had occurred to me, I really wanted needed to know if there was an apostrophe, and if so, where it belonged.

So of course I took to my friends Google and Wikipedia.  I found some really interesting information, and discovered the cause of my confusion.

As I already knew, Patriots' Day celebrates the Battles of Lexington and Concord... which were the first battles of the revolutionary war. There's a re-enactment of the battle every year (actually two.. one in Lexington, and one in Concord), and it includes the ride of Paul Revere.  And I also knew that the holiday is technically on April 19th.. but like so many other holidays, it was shifted to a Monday  (another one of my peeves, although a minor one). And of course I know that the Boston Marathon is run on Patriots' Day.  And I knew that the Boston Marathon had been run on that day, for over a hundred years.

But that still left the question of the apostrophe.

Here's the answer ---

Patriot Day is the anniversary of 9/11/2001

Patriots Day is the name of the movie about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing

Patriot's Day is the name of the Maine holiday celebrating the Lexington Concord battles, and is also the name of the holiday in Tennessee.

Patriots' Day is the name of the holiday celebrating the battles, in Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

The Florida state legislature has recognized Patriots' Day (April 19) as "one of great historical significance" and encourages people to 'commemorate' the day, although it's not an official holiday.

And not to leave out my Canadian friends (even the coffee-drinking ones!), Canada celebrates National Patriots' Day on the Monday preceding May 25.

What does all of this mean?  Well among other things, it means that this is one situation where I'm going to give you a pass, whether you leave off the S, use the S but no apostrophe, or use the apostrophe in one of two different places.

Yes, this is a great day of celebration.... because it's not often that I give people a pass on apostrophes.
And -- like any celebration -- it deserves a good cup of tea.  So I'm off to enjoy my typhoo tea, and I hope you enjoy this day as well.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Quit apologizing

There's a lot in the news lately about the 'right' way to say you're sorry, including a recent article in the New York Times.  The reports talk about making the apology without disclaimers or conditions, and keeping in mind that the purpose of the apology is to make the other person feel better.. except that you have to be careful you don't mention that you want them to forgive you....

But there's a problem with these reports.

You see, the reports use apologizing and saying you're sorry, interchangeably.  But apologizing is quite different from saying you're sorry.  Really, it is.  I looked it up. To apologize is to admit failings or fault... it's an admission of wrongdoing.  'I'm sorry'  expresses regret... but it's regret about the situation.. not a personal admission of fault.

And while maybe it's always okay to say "I'm sorry", there are many instances when "I apologize" is wrong.

A few months ago, I found myself saying --

Quit Apologizing.  You're Just Making Me Angry.

Yes, I truly did use those words.  No, I wasn't shouting... but I was being quite firm.  (which is why I've capitalized each word.)

To be honest, even I was surprised to hear myself say "Quit apologizing, you're just making me angry". But that gives you an idea of how angry I was.

Let me give you some background, and I think perhaps you'll understand.

I was on the phone with Bank of America.  (and already, I see many of you nodding your heads in understanding.)  I was following up on a phone call I'd made two days earlier.  The purpose of that earlier phone call had been to find out why Bank of America had not produced the paperwork they were supposed to have sent, two months earlier.  Well, actually, two and a half months earlier, but who's counting.  And that earlier phone call concluded with the promise that the paperwork would be faxed to me right away.

Except that, two days later, it wasn't. So I was on the phone again.

Now, I understand that B of A has some 'image' issues.  And I can see that they might instruct their employees in the customer service department to be ultra-nice and ultra-cheerful and ultra-friendly. And apparently customer service translated all those ultras into a directive to apologize to the customer.  And I understand that customer service person #2 .. and even customer service person #1... was not responsible for B of A's failure to do what they should have done, two months earlier.  And #2 was not responsible for the fact that the remedy that #1 had promised... hadn't happened.  It's even quite possible that #1 was not responsible for the fact that the promised remedy hadn't happened. But it was absolutely clear that neither person #1 nor person #2 was admitting that they'd done anything wrong.

In all fairness to me, I didn't snap at customer service person #1.. and I didn't snap at customer service person #2 the first three times she said I apologize.  But apparently, for this camel, the fourth time is the final straw. As you might imagine, customer service person #2 intially was a little taken aback at my outburst. But habits are habits, so a few moments later, once again she said "I apologize".

Sigh.  So I let that one go.  And the next time she said it, I let that one go, as well.  The phone conversation was nearly over, and it was apparent that I wasn't going to change customer service person #2.  And, for what it's worth, the action that should have occurred more than two months before the phone call, did indeed finally happen.

Apologies are okay.  Saying you're sorry is okay.  But use the one you mean, and mean the one you use.

The recent New York Times article said, "An apology actually affects the bodily funtions of the person receiving it - blood pressure decreases, heart rate slows and breathing becomes steadier."


Frankly, I'm better off having a cup of tea.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Don't take it personally....

Sally Yates has been fired.  It shouldn't have been a surprise to her, and I don't think it was.  She was a short-timer... someone from the Obama administration who was merely a placeholder, while Trump's appointee is confirmed (or not). Even had she kept her mouth shut, and even if Sessions is not confirmed, no person in their right mind would expect her to retain her position once someone new is confirmed. This is nothing new or unusual.  It is common for a new President to clean house. Ms. Yates took the opportunity to go out with some fanfare, rather than quietly step down.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  In fact, there's nothing new about an attorney general refusing to support certain action.  The ban on gay marriage is an instance that immediately comes to mind, but it's far from the only example. As an attorney, I'm not required to follow my client's instructions if I feel they are unethical... and that rule goes all the way up to the top.

But there's a problem with how the firing was done. Let's ignore the timing, let's ignore the jokes about 'You're Fired', let's ignore some of the angry and inaccurate comments that people are making about Ms. Yates.

Instead, let's look at the official White House Statement:

Had I been consulted, I would have suggested something like.. "The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has been relieved of her duties.  Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia has been named to serve as acting Attorney General to serve in her place."  That statement would have been accurate, and professional.. and would have given Trump critics very little to criticize.  When Ms. Yates announced her position on the immigration Executive Order, she had to have known that she would be removed; it would be foolish for anyone to expect anything different.

But instead of something clean and professional, we have this childish, tantrum-sounding, name-calling statement.

Betrayed?  Gee, Trump administration... don't you think that's just a teeny tiny bit overreaching?
Weak on borders and illegal immigration?  Yeah, right...  as if that's why you removed her.. and where's your foundation for that statement?  Sounds like slander, to me.
Wrongfully held up confirmation?  For strictly political reasons?  Oh come on, quit being a baby. Where were you for the past 8 years?  Or for that matter, where have you been on numerous occasions when there's been a change in the President, and Congress hasn't been onboard?
And, I'm sorry, Mr. Boente, but somehow your kowtowing statement doesn't make me feel protected.. it looks to me like the main thing being protected is your job.

And then it hit me.  THIS is the problem...Trump, the experienced businessman, is taking all of this PERSONALLY.

I can disagree with my mother  (sorry mom!) and argue with my siblings, and when I'm in court I take a position contrary to that taken by the other side's attorney.. but at the end of the day, I love mom, I love my siblings, and I share pleasantries.. and even lunch.. with opposing counsel when court is over.
We're getting knee-jerk reactions (and tweets, of course) from President Trump.. because we're hurting his feelings.

President Trump --   debate, and discussion and opposing views... this is all a part of how this country is run. We are not your employees. We are allowed to disagree with you. And if you would quit taking things personally... if you would quit reacting because somebody hurt your feelings... who knows -- maybe you could be a decent President.
No, I didn't vote for you. But there have been many elected officials over the years who did not get my vote.  I can move on. And you need to, as well.

And hey.... have a cup of tea.. it might make you feel better.